Residents raise concerns over gas drilling plans


Emily Davies

ANGER and frustration filled a village hall as residents discovered plans for gas drilling will be submitted within the month.
Furious locals from Dudleston Heath, St Martins, Ellesmere and the surrounding areas attended the first of two meetings to learn more about the potential coal-bed methane (CBM) extraction which is currently being suggested by Dart Energy on land at Brooklands Farm in Dudleston Heath.
But the unexpected attendance of Peter Reilly, public relation consultant for the exploratory firm, caused a further eruption when he announced a full planning application will be just around the corner after Shropshire Council decided an environmental impact assessment (EIA) is not required.
He told the 100-strong audience: “This is only for a single, vertical exploratory hole. It will take a sample which will be sent off for testing and the hole will be sealed with concrete.”

But residents, who had attended to hear from national group Frack-Off – who campaign against CBM and shale gas extraction, the latter also known as fracking – voiced concerns over noise, pollution and transportation.
Bill Jones, who lives in St Martins, said: “We don’t need gas. We don’t need to be a carbon economy. That is the old way.”
His views were backed by Cerys Williams, whose husband, Craig, has recently finished building their family home close to the proposed drilling site.
She asked Mr Reilly if he would like to have a well in his back garden.
He responded: “I would rather have a well in my garden than a wind turbine.”
Mrs Williams later added: “They (Dart Energy) might put the land back to how it was afterwards, but if there is coal-bed methane down there then somebody will go after it at some point and that’s the upsetting part.”
Councillor for St Martins, Steve Davenport, told the meeting his “hands are tied” until a planning application goes in, but vowed to help fight it if it does.
Natural England, the Environment Agency and Shropshire Council’s Public Protection team have said an environmental impact assessment is not necessary for the application.
However, the unitary authority’s department has warned the 24/7 drilling could cause an issue with noise.

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